As you walk into Houston's, to your right you will see their master chefs preparing your food made fresh to order, and will be warmly greeted by a phalanx of black-clad, energetic and well-versed food servers who will supply your every culinary need. The low lighting, hot jazz playing softly in the background, and large accommodating tables and seating set the mood for an extraordinary eating experience. You'll be tended to by a team of food servers, who are friendly without fawning, and will keep your drinks freshly refilled and your table immaculate, as you enjoy your meal. Our food server, Christine, made sure we knew about the daily specials, offered side dishes and appetizers, and was there when we needed her, without being obtrusive.
Houston's offers several daily specials, usually fish dishes, and prepares eight varieties of sushi, including: Coconut shrimp roll, Osaka style pressed sushi, classic California roll, shrimp and macadamia roll, salmon mango roll, spicy tuna roll, Thai tuna roll and their special vegetable roll for the vegetarians in your party (from $12-$16).
The hamburgers at Houston's are different from any other place in town as they are made with fresh-ground chuck prepared daily, except for the house-made veggie burger which is made with brown rice, black beans and oat bran with sweet soy and melted jack cheese ($15-$16). They serve a "Chicken and Friends sandwich" which is made from grilled chicken, Cure 81 ham and served with Jack cheese, a tomato slice and arugula ($15), and a fresh fish sandwich made with their fish of the day and served with leaf lettuce, sliced red onion and their Chef's dressing ($16). You can also get the very best French dip au jus sandwich in town, which is made of their thinly sliced roasted prime rib piled on a toasted French roll ($20). All the sandwiches and burgers come with your choice of barley salad, coleslaw or French fries. The coleslaw is notable in that it is made with finely chopped fresh cabbage, with a touch of sweet pickle, finely chopped chives and a sweet dressing.
For seven dollars you can enjoy their daily soup offerings: the Mexico City soup, New Orleans red bean soup, tortilla soup, baked potato soup, tomato soup, Newport Beach clam chowder and a fiery favorite, the Firehouse chili.
Their tempting, original appetizers are: grilled artichokes served with clarified butter, Chicago spinach dip with fresh bread, cheese toast, whole-grain barley salad, coleslaw, hand-cut French fries, their seasonal vegetable offering, or the hot and filling black beans and rice (from $5-$13).
If you're in the mood for a salad, try: spicy tuna roll salad served over mixed greens, with avocado and mango with a ponzu sauce (a sour sauce made by mixing citrus juice with soy sauce); grilled chicken salad served over mixed greens with tortilla strips and honey-lime vinaigrette and peanut sauce; freshly made Caesar salad with Reggiano (a Parmesan cheese), homemade croutons and their Caesar dressing (which is made without eggs); a light salad of mixed greens, chopped egg and smokehouse bacon served with homemade croutons, or venture a Thai steak or chicken and noodle salad made with marinated chicken or steak, avocado, mango and herbs with a Thai dressing (from $12-$20).
The pièce de résistance at this restaurant is their succulent filet mignon (which they call their center-cut filet), a hefty serving of beef tenderloin which is lovingly grilled over a hardwood fire and served with French fries (or your choice of side dish) for $35. Their other wonderful entrées include: oak grilled trout served with seasonal vegetables; Scottish salmon served with seasonal vegetables; pan fried fish served with dill tartar sauce, sliced tomato and coleslaw; rotisserie chicken served with barley salad; barbecued pork ribs served with French fries and coleslaw; Hawaiian rib eye steak served with French fries; or a delicious roasted prime rib served with French fries and two choices of horseradish dressing (from $21-$30).
If you have any room for dessert, you may choose from: the warm five-nut brownie, served with a tureen of hot fudge sauce; the apple walnut cobbler; a traditional hot fudge sundae, or their scrumptious key-lime pie ($8).
For those who wish to imbibe in a glass of wine, they have an astounding selection of over 20 Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet blends, 9 Pinot Noir, 9 Chardonnay, 6 Sauvignon Blanc, 6 Merlot, 5 Zinfandel, 4 sparkling wine and champagne, 5 Shiraz and a full bar.
Houston's is located at 320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105. They are open Monday through Sunday from 11am to 10pm and have parking available on the premises, as well as additional parking in a lot off Del Mar Blvd., which is available after 7pm for their patrons. They have a large area that is specified for all their walk-in customers, but you can also make reservations by calling 626-577-6001 or by visiting the website.
Attire can be casual, but they do request that gentlemen remove their hats and refrain from wearing sleeveless shirts while in the restaurant.